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#SportsReport: MLB Season Pushed To May; NFL Draft Remains On Schedule

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MLB has pushed back opening day until mid-May at the earliest because of the new coronavirus. The decision follows the federal government recommendation restricting events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement following a conference call with executives of the 30 teams. His office issued a statement saying teams remain committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins. The season was slated to begin March 26.

In other virus-related news: 

Like baseball, NASCAR has also postponed its season until May. The series plans to return to the track at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia on May 9. Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials say they are holding off on postponing the month of May activities that conclude with the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend. The Indy 500 draws crowds in excess of 300,000.

NHL players have been told they can return home and self-isolate there until the end of March while hockey is on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic. The league cautioned that it will not be able to even provide guidance on the potential reopening of team practices for another 45 days, which could make May the earliest possible restart date. Players had previously been told to remain in their team's city and await further direction. 

The NFL has barred in-person interviews with free agents and is requiring local physical examinations for them rather than team-conducted exams. The league also banned travel by team personnel to meet with free agents as well as those players traveling to team facilities. The moves were included in a memo sent to all 32 teams. The NFL also says it will proceed with its draft but without public events next month in Las Vegas. It's not yet clear, however, if the draft itself will be held in the city. Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday the draft will take place April 23-25 as scheduled but under a modified format still being developed. The draft will be televised regardless of its venue or format. 

The Kentucky Derby is being postponed from May to September because of growing concern about the coronavirus pandemic, according to a published report. The Courier-Journal of Louisville cited unidentified sources close to the race saying Churchill Downs will postpone the Derby from May 2 to Sept. 5. That would make it the first time in 75 years that the race won't be run on the first Saturday in May. A formal announcement by the racetrack will be made Tuesday. The last time the Derby wasn't held on the first Saturday in May was in 1945. 

The women's professional tennis tour has suspended all competition until May 2 because of the outbreak. The tour says a decision will be made "in the week ahead" about the rest of the European clay-court circuit. The next Grand Slam tournament is the French Open, which is scheduled to begin in Paris on May 24.

The leader of the IOC's coordination commission for the Tokyo Olympics says there is no May deadline to cancel the games and he remains confident the event will go ahead. John Coates told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper: "It's all proceeding to start on the 24th of July." Former IOC vice president Dick Pound said in an interview with The Associated Press last month that the end of May loomed as a possible deadline for the IOC to make a call on the Tokyo Olympics.

The Greek Olympic committee says the Olympic flame handover ceremony for the Tokyo Games will take place without spectators in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The committee canceled the remainder of the Olympic torch relay last week after crowds gathered in southern Greece to watch part of the torch relay in Sparta, where the torch was carried by actor Gerard Butler.


In non-virus NFL news: 

The Bills have announced re-signing offensive lineman Quinton Spain to a three-year contract.

The Giants have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on defensive tackle Leonard Williams.

A person with knowledge of the deal says the Jets and former Seahawks offensive tackle George Fant have agreed to terms on a three-year contract worth $30 million.

The Patriots have placed a franchise tag on left guard Joe Thuney.

Longtime Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster is retiring. The 11-year veteran made the announcement on Instagram. The Steelers are holding onto Bud Dupree by placing the franchise tag on the outside linebacker. Dupree could make around $16 million in 2020 if he signs the tag. Dupree collected a career-high 11 1/2 sacks in 2019.

The San Francisco 49ers have lost one talented defensive lineman while retaining another. The Niners have shipped defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 pick in this year's draft. A person familiar with the deal said Buckner will receive a new contract worth $21 million a year from the Colts. The fourth-year pro had 7 ½ sacks and 34 solo tackles last year. The trade was completed immediately after the 49ers announced a deal to keep defensive lineman Arik Armstead with a five-year contract worth up to $85 million. Armstead recorded 10 sacks and 18 quarterback hits last season. He's been with the Niners since being selected 17th overall in the 2015 NFL draft.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has accepted a two-year, $66 million contract extension. Cousins was entering the final season of the fully guaranteed, three-year, $84 million contract he signed as a free agent in 2018. He was scheduled to count $31 million against the salary cap, but a personal familiar with the trade tells The Associated Press the new pact will reduce by $10 million the team's charge for 2020.

The Cardinals have picked up three-time All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Texans for running back David Johnson and draft picks. That's according to a person familiar with the trade. Hopkins has three years remaining on a five-year, $81 million deal he signed in 2017. He caught 104 passes for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns last year.

The Titans have tagged Derrick Henry as their franchise player, making sure they keep the NFL rushing leader around for at least this season. Henry had 1,540 yards rushing during the 2019 regular season before gaining another 377 yards in Tennessee's first two playoff games, leading the Titans to the AFC title game.

The Buccaneers have placed the franchise tag on NFL sack leader Shaquil Barrett, who would be scheduled to make just under $16 million this season. Bruce Arians stated late last season that the 27-year-old outside linebacker "ain't going anywhere" after setting a team record with 19½ sacks in 2019. The move likely means the departure of quarterback Jameis Winston, who will become an unrestricted free agent if the Bucs don't re-sign him by Wednesday.

The Cowboys and receiver Amari Cooper have agreed to a five-year, $100 million package. That's according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal. The 25-year-old Cooper has 5,097 yards receiving and 33 touchdowns in five NFL seasons since the Raiders made him the first overall pick in the draft. The Cowboys have also placed their exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Dak Prescott, securing his rights for an estimated $31.5 million while the sides continue working on a long-term deal. Prescott has played his entire four-year NFL career with the Cowboys and threw for over 4,900 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season. And Dallas has re-signed Blake Jarwin to a three-year, $24 million package that includes $9 million guaranteed. Jarwin had 31 receptions for 365 yards and three touchdowns in 2019.

The Raiders have agreed on a contract with free agent quarterback Marcus Mariota to provide an experienced backup behind starter Derek Carr. A person familiar with the deal confirmed the Raiders' deal with the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft. Also, free agent linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski has reportedly agreed to a contract with the Las Vegas Raiders.

A person familiar with the situation says Saints starting defensive tackle David Onyemata will re-sign with New Orleans instead of entering free agency. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Onyemata started all 15 regular-season games in which he played and the Saints' lone playoff game last season.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations says the Denver Broncos have agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract with free agent offensive lineman Graham Glasgow. He has started 58 games in four seasons with the Detroit Lions, who drafted him in the third round out of Michigan in 2016.

Free agent tackle Jack Conklin has agreed to a three-year, $42 million contract with the Browns, according to his agent. Conklin is perhaps the best tackle available on this year's market. His agent says Conklin will get $30 million guaranteed and earn $20 million in his first year.

The Dolphins made Byron Jones the NFL's highest-paid cornerback, surpassing his new teammate, Xavien Howard. The Dolphins upgraded their pass rush by reaching agreements with linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive end Shaq Lawson, and also swung a deal with offensive lineman Ereck Flowers.

The Vikings have reached an agreement with punter Britton Colquitt on a three-year, $9 million contract, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The Vikings have reportedly also placed the franchise tag on safety Anthony Harris.

The Falcons have acquired tight end Hayden Hurst from the Ravens. That's according to a person familiar with the deal. Atlanta has released backup tight end Luke Stocker and offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo. The Falcons also will cut running back Devonta Freeman and cornerback Desmond Trufant.

A person with knowledge of the move said the Redskins have agreed to re-sign inside linebacker Jon Bostic to a two-year, $6.6 million deal.

The Colts have released defensive tackle Margus Hunt and will re-sign receiver Daurice Fountain.

The Cardinals have placed the transition tag on running back Kenyan Drake, which allows the team to match any offer he receives from another team during free agency.

The Bengals used their franchise tag on A.J. Green. That gives them time to try to work out a long-term deal with the star who is one of the most accomplished receivers in franchise history and would be a vital part of breaking in a new quarterback.

The Chiefs have placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Chris Jones, raising the possibility that the Pro Bowl defensive tackle will remain with the Super Bowl champions for at least one more season.

Ben Watson is hanging up his cleats for the second time. The 39-year-old tight end announced his retirement in a message on Twitter on Monday, marking the end of a 15-year NFL career that included two stints in New England, as well as stops in Cleveland, New Orleans and Baltimore.


Utah Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell says he showed no symptoms of being sick before testing positive for the coronavirus and continues to have no signs of illness since going into isolation. Mitchell also revealed in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" that it "took awhile for me to kind of cool off" at Rudy Gobert, his All-Star teammate who was the first NBA player to have a positive test for the virus revealed. Gobert has said in recent days that he did not take the threat of the illness seriously.

© The Associated Press 2020. All Rights Reserved.